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American Legends: The Life of James Cagney [Kindle Edition]

Charles River Editors
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

*Includes pictures.
*Includes Cagney's own quotes about his life and career.
*Includes a bibliography for further reading.
*Includes a table of contents.

"You don't psych yourself up for these things, you do them...I'm acting for the audience, not for myself, and I do it as directly as I can." – James Cagney

A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history’s most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors’ American Legends series, readers can get caught up to speed on the lives of America’s most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.

When the American Film Institute assembled its top 100 actors of all time at the close of the 20th century, one of the Top 10 was James Cagney, an actor whose acting and dancing talents spawned a stage and film career that spanned over 5 decades and once compelled Orson Welles to call him "maybe the greatest actor to ever appear in front of a camera." Indeed, his portrayal of “The Man Who Owns Broadway”, George M. Cohan, earned him an Academy Award in the musical Yankee Doodle Dandy, and as famed director Milos Forman once put it, "I think he's some kind of genius. His instinct, it's just unbelievable. I could just stay at home. One of the qualities of a brilliant actor is that things look better on the screen than the set. Jimmy has that quality."

Ultimately, it was portraying tough guys and gangsters in the 1930s that turned Cagney into a massive Hollywood star, and they were the kind of roles he was literally born to play after growing up rough in Manhattan at the turn of the 20th century. In movies like The Public Enemy (which included the infamous “grapefruit scene”) and White Heat, Cagney convincingly played criminals that brought Warner to the forefront of Hollywood and the gangster genre. Cagney also helped pave the way for younger actors in the genre, like Humphrey Bogart, and he was so good that he found himself in danger of being typecast.

While Cagney is no longer remembered as fondly or as well as Bogart, he was also crucial in helping establish the system in which actors worked as independent workers free from the constraints of studios. Refusing to be pushed around, Cagney was constantly involved in contract squabbles with Warner, and he often came out on top, bucking the conventional system that saw studios treat their stars as indentured servants who had to make several films a year.

American Legends: The Life of James Cagney examines the life and career of one of Hollywood’s most iconic actors. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about Cagney like never before, in no time at all.


Product Details

  • File Size: 1031 KB
  • Print Length: 46 pages
  • Publisher: Charles River Editors (December 13, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HBBD4UY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,252 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My favorite actor January 2, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
always a big fan. I have read many times about Cagney. this held my attention but could have said more about his varied roles. calling Yankee.keep doodle dandy the only departure from gangster roles is incorrect. strawberry blonde, fighting 69th and man of a thousand faces are good examples.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Yankee Dandy September 4, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a short introduction/summation to the life of a great and incredibly versatile American legend, James Cagney. From a wildly insane gangster, to a consummate song and dance man, and then to a wildly caffeinated Coca Cola executive, James Cagney could do it all, with style, professionalism, astounding talent, and humanity. This book is a brief but very well-written biography that makes me want to learn even more about the man -- and to re-watch some of his grand old movies. I always loved that Yankee Doodle Dandy, and this book reinforced that love.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A few typos but not a bad book July 12, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I found this book whet my appetite to learn more about James. Cagney enough to head to my library for the authorized biography of James Cagney.
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"Once a song-and-dance man, always a song-and-dance man" You might think that would sum up Cagney's character but I was surprised to learn this was more in reference to his being a remarkable dancer and actually having taught it at one time, together with having been a semi-pro baseball player, amateur lightweight boxer, farmer, and of course an extraordinary actor. I was also humored to learn while reading this short biography that movie studios regularly shot at their actors with live rounds back in the days because blanks were considered too expensive (I didn't know that!)Cagney well deserves a lot of respect in my humble opinion and just want to mention how appropriate it would be to honor him at this time being it is his actual birth month. Excellent book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The life of James Cagney April 18, 2014
By Sgt.
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books about one of my favorite actors, it was very well written and covered many of his movies a lot that I have never seen but have on my list to look for.
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More About the Author

Charles River Editors is a digital publishing company that creates compelling, educational content. In addition to publishing original titles, we help clients create traditional and media-enhanced books.


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